Sunday, December 23, 2007



The Wat Saket complex in central Bangkok

Since I got to Thailand I've been wondering if there is going to be another military coup. No one wanted to talk about it but the prospect has been hanging like a shroud over the city. This weekend, though, people are talking about it. Today is Sunday, election day. Exit polls confirm what pre-election surveys had been predicting, that the huge rural vote in the north would propel a victory for the P.P.P. (People's Power Party), a right-wing conglomerate of supporters of deposed billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Depending who you talk to, Thaksin and his supporters are best known for either massive corruption or for populist rhetoric. Not many people-- regardless of how they felt about Thaksin-- liked the idea of a military coup.

The P.P.P. doesn't deny they would welcome Thaksin back to Thailand and pardon him. It is also suggested that the military officers responsible are likely to be charged and tried by a P.P.P. government. It doesn't take much to figure this situation is ripe for a coup-- despite the fact that the military is claiming that will resist the temptation. People in Bangkok-- which is decidedly not P.P.P. or Thaksin territory-- are worried. No one wants violence or instability.

I've been to Thailand over a dozen times since the late 70s and I've never seen so few tourists here. It's the peak of the tourist season-- Christmas, warm, dry; and a dollar still goes very far here. But there are so few tourists that it is disconcerting. I've walked into clubs where I'm the only customer. You don't need reservations for even the best restaurants in town. Today Roland and I spent a couple of hours at Wat Saket (Golden Mount), a spectacular temple complex in the middle of town. I may have seen, at most, half a dozen European tourists the whole time; normally there would be scores. Maybe their travel agents warned them to stay away.

And Thailand isn't the only "democracy" with electoral problems lately. Tonight we found out that India's Gujurat state just re-elected a far right, nationalist, anti-Muslim bigot party, Modi's BJP, while last week South Koreans elected a blatantly corrupt rightist as president, a Bush-clone who wants to "get tough" with nuclear-armed North Korea. God only knows what's about to come down in Pakistan. Elections conforming corrupt, authoritarian rule in Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were as patently illegitimate as Bush's wins were in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. Bush has made the very idea of democracy and fair elections are farce and a bad joke around the world. And now he's using a trillion or so taxpayer dollars to spread his vision of "democracy" to Iraq.

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At 8:55 AM, Anonymous cbear said...

Thankfully, the Thai's love and loyalty to their King usually precludes the drastic societal effects that often accompany coups in other countries. However, it can be dangerous for foreigners, so be careful over there.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger cybermome said...


What will happen to you and Roland if there is a military coup?

At 10:59 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Lee, we're leaving for Burma in a few hours. The only thing that worries me is the idea that there's a coup while we're away and that we can't get back here. Roland figures there won't be any coups before Jan. 3, which is the day they officially confirm the election results. We'll be back in Bangkok by then. As long as they don't shut down the internet-- which I believe they did in Burma for awhile-- I'll be keeping everyone posted. My Thai friends say they don't expect any trouble though.


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